I have an embarrassingly large CD and record collection – spread across two flats (not both mine, in case you were wondering) and occupying everything from shelves to suitcases. Courtesy of YouTube, I thought I’d share some of the choice items – particularly some of the less well known ones.  Think of it as a slowly evolving, digital mixtape...

There’ll be a new song most days (at least that’s the plan) so keep checking back and please post your comments and suggestions as well.

Esther Phillips enjoyed early success on Savoy but drug addiction sidelined her before her 20th birthday.  She made a comeback in the 60s on Atlantic with Release Me and a cover of the Beatles' And I Love Him but was forced to check into rehab once again.  Her career was rejuvenated a second time when she sign to Kudu, a division of Creed Taylor’s CTI Records.  While there, she released perhaps her best known record a discofied remake of What A Diff’rence A Day Makes (1975) but that recording gives little indication of the breath of her talent which embraced country, blues, R&B, pop and jazz.  She left Kudu to record a further four albums for Mercury but in 1984, at the age of 48, she succumbed to liver and kidney failure.

Phillips unique voice – which managed to be vulnerable, assertive and commandingly sensual all at the same time – was tailor made for songs like this one by Lee Pockriss and Paul Vance (who were also responsible for Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini but perhaps it’s time to forgive them).  A lyric which, in other hands, could have become cloyingly sentimental is rendered poignant and almost tragic.  It’s from her last Kudu album, Capricorn Princess and while perhaps not her greatest recording overall, that LP alone gives a sense of her versatility containing as it does everything from a disarmingly lovely take on A Beautiful Friendship to perhaps the only successful disco version of a Janis Ian song, Boy, I Really Tied One On.

 

Barbara Lewis enjoyed a first taste of chart success in her late teens with Hello Stranger (later covered by Yvonne Elliman) and hit it big again a couple of years later with Van McCoy's Baby I'm Yours. By the end of the sixties she was sounding altogether more grown up on her one and only album for Stax, The Many Grooves of Barbara Lewis - from which comes this, the lead-off track.

We never quite find out what the No No she's objecting to is – I suspect some chap's trying to steal a spoonful of her tiramisu but then I've led a very sheltered life...

 

Glen Campbell's association with Jimmy Webb produced some of the most perfect pop/country records of the 60s and 70s. But their association continued long after their hit making days. Before his commercial and critical renaissance of the last few years, Campbell spent almost two decades without a major hit. In the late 80s he recorded a couple of relatively unsuccessful albums for MCA, one of which, Light Years, was mostly composed by Webb. This gorgeous song is the leadoff track.

One of the many sayings attributed to Thelonious Monk is "Stop playing all those weird notes, play the melody".  Art Tatum never forgot the melody but somehow managed to embellish it with more notes than most of us could even imagine.  Some critics deplored what they regarded as his excessive ornamentation. Others were dazzled by his technique which was as intricate and virtuosic as any in the pre-bebop era.  Here he is relatively late in his career (1949) with a typically inventive take on this Rodgers and Hart standard.